This was supossed to be a special day: we only wanted to climb the pass and sleep there. And we almost did that. We only made some slight changes due to some unfortunate findings.
We started the day very early: we were cycling at 6am. That was a really good idea; otherwise, the heat would have made this day a very hard one. Our recommendation is for you exactly the same.
Initial 10 kms take you up slowly. You climb some 300m through a road that gets worse little by little. You’re next to the very clean river that ends in Kalaikhum and that makes the atmosphera quite fresh as well. At that point, after 10 km aprox, there’s a checkpoint. That’s were the real pass starts. From there onwards, 25 km uphill with almost no rest.
The pass is quite “easy” until km 25. The road is pretty but nothing special. Lots of curves, almost no people (only after km 18), lots of places to collect honey… Nice and “easy”. The paved part dissapears quite early and, even if it comes back here and there, it only does it for a short time. You leave the river quite early and there aren’t many chances to get water (but there are some).
After km 25 things change. The road got harder (or at least it did for me: maybe I was starting to get tired) due to some slopes being harder but also because the state of the road got a little bit worse here and there. But it also gets (much) more beautiful!! Good place to stop for pics!
There’s no real town while going uphill as some maps show. Only some houses here and there, yurks mainly. But a clean river shows up here, so clean water is easily available.
The top is nice but there’s no river nor restaurant (like some people had told us). There’s a very small stream some 500m from the top, on the road.
But there is, or there could be, a “small” problem here on the top: landmines.
According to some guidebooks and also to some sheperds we found on the top, there are still landmines here. Tajik goberment was supossed to remove them by 2009 but they didn’t finish the task. So leaving the road is not safe at all.
1. It doesn’t look like there are landmines, just because you’ll see lots of sheep and cows here, and they are almost everywhere. What a better sign that the land is clean?
2. Anyway, why risk it?
3. Landmines are one of the most horrible things ever created by any human being. Damm everybody who has ever contributed to the manufacturing of any of them.
We didn’t camp here anyway, but some 7 km down the road. The road was GREAT (I’ll speak about that tomorrow), and we found some nice water and a good place for camping. Also, it felt amazing to sleep in the cold again!!